Following an eventful July 1st (for the League, not so much for the Red Wings), now begins the Wings’ summer wheelhouse: the bargain bin of players that will be rescued from free agency hell and, likely, turned into valuable additions to an already deep Motown squad.
First, a recap.
The evening before free agency frenzy kicked off, the Wings locked up their $hitbox for another three seasons at a cap hit of $3.25M. Jonathan Ericsson not only conned his way back into the lineup, he somehow worked in a modified no-trade clause (per CapGeek). There are no details yet about the terms of the clause, but it could range from “becomes active in 2012” to “he can name six teams he would accept a trade to.” No matter what the clause stipulates, I don’t like it. He becomes only the seventh player on the current roster to be blessed with a no-movement clause of some sort.
Just before noon struck, the Wings locked up another one of their role players as Patrick Eaves re-upped for three seasons at a very reasonable cap hit of $1.2M per season. Just after the floodgates opened, it was announced that Drew Miller would also be returning to the Wings at $837,500-a-year over the next two seasons.
While money was being tossed around by small market owners, the Wings stood pat for the most part. They were hoping to find a top four defenseman on the market, but found that prices were too steep, and jumped at former Hurricane and Blue Jacket Mike Commodore for a reasonable $1M on a one-year deal. It would prove to be their only foray into the open market… and our very own Chris Hollis NAILED IT.
With Commodore, Eaves, Miller, and Ericsson locked up — the roster is beginning to take shape. If you include Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton (each of whom are out of minor league options next season), the Red Wings have 21 players on the 2011-12 roster: 14 forwards, 6 defensemen, and a goaltender. They have a total of $54,379,544 dedicated to next season’s payroll, leaving $9,920,456 in available cap space.
The only holes left to be plugged are a backup goaltender and another defenseman, unless Kenny Tick Tock and Company hope to upgrade somewhere along the line. If they plug Brendan Smith into that final blueline spot (which it sounds like they’d like to do), they’ll be left with just a touch over $9 million for just a backup goaltender. Obviously, they won’t be spending all of that in the position, but they certainly have room to play with.
The front-runners for a backup position include former Wing Ty Conklin, as well as former Wolverine Marty Turco (lol), Ray Emery, and incumbent Chris Osgood.
As of July 2nd, the roster looks like this (ignore line combinations):
Datsyuk :: Zetterberg :: Franzen
Holmstrom :: Filppula :: Bertuzzi
Hudler :: Cleary :: Eaves
Miller :: Abdelkader :: Helm
(Mursak :: Emmerton)
Lidstrom :: Kronwall
Stuart :: Ericsson
Kindl :: Commodore
Rumor has it that the Wings offered Jiri Hudler to anyone that would have him at the Draft in Minnesota. Apparently, there were no takers, but don’t be surprised if he’s offloaded to someone (cough–Florida Panthers–cough) in exchange for a little more cap room so that the Wings can chase some help within the offensive ranks.
Here comes July 2… where the Wings start to do their picking. Last season, it wasn’t until the 3rd that Detroit started signing players (Joey MacDonald, Jamie Johnson, and Chris Minard), so they got an early start in 2011.
Photo Credit: Dave Reginek, NHLI via Getty Images